Several towns in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur have been placed under control of the Commission on Elections, Comelec chairman Saidamen Pangarungan announced on Tuesday.
According to GMA News' Tina Panganiban-Perez's tweets, the Comelec placed six municipalities in the province of Maguindanao and one city and one municipality in Lanao del Sur under its control.
Upon the recommendation of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Comelec Regional Election director Ray Sumalipao, the Committeee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Concerns, the following have been placed under Comelec control:
- Datu Odin Sinsuat
- Datu Piang
- Sultan Kudarat
Lanao del Sur
- Marawi City
Earlier placed under Comelec control were the towns of Tubaran and Malabang towns in Lanao del Sur.
Under Comelec Resolution 10757, an area may be placed under Comelec control if it has the following circumstances:
- History of/or current intense rivalry among contending parties. Such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts;
- Incidents of politically-motivated violence involving aspirants/candidates and other supporters;
- Violence may be facilitated by the employment of Private Armed Groups (PAGs); and
- Serious armed threats posed by the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), & other threat groups including BIFFs, Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Group, & other analogous threat groups as may be declared by the competent authority or other paramilitary forces, private armies or identifiable armed bands widely perceived to have committed terrorism, fraud or other election irregularities and threaten or disrupt the holding of free, peaceful, honest, orderly, & credible elections in any political division, subdivision, unit or area.
As regards other areas, Pangarungan said the poll body was "continuously upgrading and updating" their assessment status.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police said the municipalities of Tubaran and Malabang in Lanao del Sur were placed under the control of Comelec.
The PNP previously submitted a list of areas in the country based on the level of threats in connection with the May 9 elections.
Areas were classified into four color-coded categories: green, yellow, orange, and red.
Areas classified as green are considered generally peaceful for the conduct of elections, according to the PNP.
Yellow areas have reported suspected election-related incidents in the past two polls, possible presence of armed groups, and intense political rivalries. Yellow areas are considered “areas of concern.”
Orange areas have a recorded presence of armed groups such as the New People's Army that may interrupt the polls. These are considered “areas of immediate concern.”
Meanwhile, red areas meet the parameters for yellow and orange areas. Security forces will focus on monitoring these areas with a possibility for violence and intense political fights among local candidates. —NB, GMA News